If we project the trends observed in other studies of the comparative experience to the Spanish case, we could estimate that adequate food would save about 14.3 billion euros for the National Health System (SNS). This is one of the main conclusions gathered in the report "Food, health factor and sustainability", driven by Lobby & Communication Karyotype, with the support of the CEOE and the Spanish Heart Foundation, and the sponsorship of Eurosemillas.

In this report, which has been presented at the CEOE headquarters, a multidisciplinary group of experts analyzes the challenges faced by the different actors involved in the food chain, in the field of health, politics, the environment, the economics, governance, communication or genomics; and highlights the role that food plays as a public health engine.

The act has been presented by the vice president of CEOE and president of Foment del Treball, Josep Sánchez Llibre, who has welcomed the food companies to the house of entrepreneurs. Sánchez Llibre has encouraged companies to work for healthy eating and to face the challenges of digitalization and globalization.

As explained during the presentation of the report Dr. Carlos Macaya, president of the Spanish Heart Foundation, “healthy eating is key during all stages of life, as it can prevent diseases and, in addition, it is important in the elderly because it avoids nutritional deficiencies and maintains a better quality of life. ”

However, the reality is that the number of people with obesity has tripled in the last forty years, this pathology becoming more alarming in childhood. In fact, childhood and youth obesity in Spain has a prevalence of 10.30%.

For his part, Julio Sánchez Fierro, lawyer, doctor of Health Sciences and former deputy secretary of the Ministry of Health, has highlighted the need to implement incentive rules and support for food policies. “Current figures require action and coordination by institutions, both nationally and internationally: 700 million people with chronic hunger, 3.4 million people die of obesity and overweight and 161 million children under five they suffer from stunted growth, ”says Sánchez Fierro.

Communication and food crisis

The excess of information in which the online universe immerses us, often means that the user does not stop to assess whether what they are receiving is objective content, based on accredited sources, or if it is only an opinion based on weak arguments.

In fact, 57% of Spaniards admit to having considered as true a story that was not related to the food sector(ii). In addition, according to data from the Spanish Federation of Food and Beverage Industries (FIAB), 30% of the fake news that we can find on the net are about food.

Nutrition experts have long been warning about how unofficial and pseudo-professional sources are monopolizing the communication of the "healthy diet" in the media and in the USSR. “The problem is that this type of information without scientific support, which is transmitted through the media, can put public health at risk,” says Carmen Mateo, president of the Karyotype and coordinator of the report.

Along these lines, he adds that in order to fight against misinformation, “coordination between institutions, companies in the food sector, nutrition experts and communication professionals” is essential, in order to achieve a properly informed society in an area as essential as food.

In relation to food crises, Dr. María Dolores Rubio, medical director of the Dr. Rodríguez Lafora Hospital (Madrid), has influenced the responsibility of all actors in the food chain. “It is true that there may be problems in the production circuits; however, the responsibility for foodborne illness is not always from the producer, but a good part of them are caused by foods that have been prepared or handled incorrectly at points of sale or in homes. ”

In this sense, he explains that a good communication strategy is a key element to facilitate success in the management of a food crisis. "The message must be objective, clear and unambiguous, prioritizing public health at all times."

Food and environment

Bad eating habits not only result in health problems, but also affect the environment, due to the production model they entail.

When we talk about the impact of food, an analysis of the “life cycle” of a product must be done: The use of insecticides and other components, in many cases, toxic and dangerous; food transport, which is being highly revised, with the aim of finding alternatives that reduce the environmental impact; the generation of containers for food preservation; and the waste of food, which generates a large amount of waste. In Europe, 30% of food is wasted, which is equivalent to 179Kg per person per year.

In this sense, companies, whether due to obligations derived from their national regulations or market requirements, are evolving “towards much more sustainable models, using variables such as carbon footprint reduction, product life cycle analysis and, especially, for an orientation towards a more circular economy model, ”says Miguel Aguado, managing partner of B Leaf.

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